The following post was written by Dr. Nigel J. Smart, Vice President and Managing Partner at Smart Pharmaceutical Consulting. 

With the increasing complexity of operational procedures, the use of traditional standard operating procedures must be questioned, particularly for equipment or technique operation.

The use of photographic techniques, pictures and other illustrations were long advocated benefits in other industries, yet the pharmaceutical industry continues to cling to practices that were right for the 1940-50’s.

Other industries have long since moved on and so should the pharmaceutical industry. Use of modern video records, diaries and commands should become the new accepted practice bringing our industry into the 21st century.

Scientific studies prove that these types of tools are much more effective in assuring that processes are properly operated compared to written procedures which frequently collect dust on the shelves. Perhaps the time is right to be more interactive and progressive about the way we communicate instructions for our processes, particularly since almost everyone has a smart phone more commonly today than a wrist watch, for example.

The old adage that pictures are worth a thousand words is true in our industry and very relevant when communicating across numerous languages.

As a final word, we should not hide behind the excuse that these are not controlled records like SOP’s since we have the technical capabilities to address this issue without it becoming a regulatory limitation.

The time is right to be bold and start to employ modern ideas for a 21st century business!


Let’s keep the conversation going. What are your thoughts on this issue? Does the pharmaceutical industry need to “join the 21st century”? We would love to hear from you! Comment below or visit our social media networks to keep talking about this topic.